We doubt it’s many folk’s ambition to look like an extra from Red Dwarf (though some, of course, think of nothing else), but there’s no denying that an MP3 player that involves no headphone cables is a tempting proposition. Sony’s NWZ-W202 is such a player.
The headphone assembly includes 2GB of memory and all player controls. The W Series Walkman sits on a bundled charging cradle but ‘break’ the magnetic clip in the middle and you’re left with two chunky headphones joined by a wire that curves around the back of your head (this is naturally called ‘Spiral Form’ by Sony).
Self-facilitating media node
There’s no question that, once the player’s in place, you look like you’re simultaneously wearing two Bluetooth headsets in true Nathan Barley fashion. But your credibility will be at least partially restored when onlookers realise that it’s a wireless Walkman.
Mercifully, it’s a simple matter of drag’n’drop to load the W202 with music, but sadly the resulting sound quality is a bit of a mixed bag.
Perky, attacking sound
Big riffs have punch and immediacy and the overall sound is perky and attacking. But there’s a definite thickening to the lower-mid and upper-bass area that other, price-comparable players – such as Samsung’s YP-S2 (http://stuff.tv/Review/Samsung-YP-S2/) – don’t produce.
Then again, any MP3 player lacking stereo Bluetooth (in other words, nearly all of them) needs a speaker cable, which isn’t what you need tugging on your lugholes on a run.
In this capacity, the W202 comes into its own, though the sizeable earpieces might irk those who are used to discreet in-ear headphones.
The W Series Walkman has one more trick up its sleeve – ‘Zappin’. Instead of forcing you to scroll through all your songs – not that easy with no screen and a ‘skip’ button up near your temple – ‘Zappin’ goes through your tracks and plays 5 second snippets (from about 30 seconds in) so you can easily find Boston’s More Than A Feeling to get you through the last mile of your run.
On a final note, we should mention that the voice that tells you ‘Zappin’ is active is scary and also hilarious. Not quite worth the £60 on its own, but significantly more amusing than the iPod Shuffle’s humourless tones.